Thursday, May 31

KRISTOFFER RAGNSTAM


KRISTOFFER RAGNSTAM is yet another artist from the musical hotbed that is Gothenburg, Sweden. I was primarily drawn to this guy through the song "No One Told Me," whose coil-and-spring dynamics have the feel of a straight-ahead, late '70s/early '80s rocker. With a crackerjack chorus to boot....

KRISTOFFER RAGNSTAM on MySPACE.

[
MP3] "No One Told Me"

[
MP3] "If This is Life"

BONUS TRACK >>>

[
MP3] "Sim Sala Bim"

THE PRETENDERS


I didn't really "get around to" THE PRETENDERS until 1984's LEARNING TO CRAWL. "Middle of the Road" and "Back on the Chain Gang" received a lot of radioplay in my part of the world, and, like a lot of people, I found CHRISSIE HYNDE's distinctive purr 'n' growl both arresting and irresistible.

Eventually, of course, I became familiar with some of the band's earlier classic tracks -- "Brass in Pocket," "Kid," "Message of Love," "Day After Day," and so on. What I didn't learn for quite some time is that the band that recorded LEARNING TO CRAWL was a very different animal than the one that produced 1980's self-titled debut and 1981's PRETENDERS II. Most conspicuous in his absence was original guitarist JAMES HONEYMAN-SCOTT, who was almost equally as crucial as Hynde for making their first record the... well... "talk of the town" that it would very quickly become.

Alas, sophomore stepsister PRETENDERS II was derided by some at the time as being just "more of the same" but "not as good" (how many young artists have had to face those particular, second-effort damnations?). Still, it wasn't as though the record was ripped by the critics or failed to spawn hit songs. It wasn't. And it did. But it also seemed forever-condemned to languish in its predecessor's lengthy shadow.

Be that as it may, RHINO RECORDS has gone ahead and re-released both PRETENDERS I and II in bigger, better form. Each has been remastered, and reviewers with keener ears than mine have raved about the improvement in sound quality. Each also comes equipped with a bonus disc. In the case of II, said disc is primarily made up of tracks from a 1981 concert in L.A. There are also a couple of outtakes and a demo of "Talk of the Town." While die-hard fans may well lap this stuff up with a spoon, less ardent admirers will likely find themselves gravitating to disc one and the songs they already know. "Message of Love." "Talk of the Town." "Day After Day." "I Go to Sleep."

Not a bad line-up, when all is said and done. Not a bad legacy, either.

THE PRETENDERS on MySPACE.

[
MP3] [VID] "Talk of the Town"

[
MP3] "I Go to Sleep"

[
MP3] "Kid" [live]

[
MP3] "The Wait" [live]

Wednesday, May 30

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS

How time flies. It's been 17 years since THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS released FLOOD, their major-label debut and home of their two best-known songs -- "Birdhouse in Your Soul" and "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)."

Their new album, THE ELSE, is available now on iTUNES. It will be released in hard-copy form on July 10 with a bonus disc featuring "new rarities," "'hi-fi versions' of podcast favorites," and "many previously unreleased studio recordings in brilliant CD quality sound."

TMBG on MySPACE.

TMBG entertaining the masses >>>

Jun 1 2007 8:00P/3-Leggd Dog/Art and Technology Center/New York, New York
Jun 2 2007 8:00P/3-Leggd Dog/Art and Technology Center/New York, New York
Jun 16 2007 12:00P/Troy, New York/FREE SHOW/Troy, New York
Jul 18 2007 8:00P/Bowery Ballroom/New York, New York
Jul 19 2007 8:00P/Bottle & Cork/Dewey Beach, Delaware
Jul 20 2007 7:00P/Chameleon/Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Jul 21 2007 8:00P/Beachland Ballroom & Tavern/Cleveland, Ohio
Jul 22 2007 7:30P/Detroit/FREE CONCERT/Main stage at Concert of Colors/Detroit, Michigan
Jul 25 2007 8:00P/Bowery Ballroom/New York, New York

[MP3] "I'm Impressed"

[MP3] "Climbing the Walls"

BONUS TRACKS >>>

[MP3] [
VID] "Birdhouse in Your Soul"

[MP3] "Minimum Wage"

GREAT NORTHERN

L.A.'s GREAT NORTHERN released their first album, TRADING TWILIGHT FOR DAYLIGHT, May 15 on EENIE MEENIE RECORDS. I continue to be a sucker for the boy/girl vocals, and co-founders SOLON BIXLER and RACHEL STOLTE are here to provide them. These are crystal-clean, classic-sounding songs -- with lush but uncluttered arrangements. Bixler suggests "headphones in the bedroom" for ideal listening, and I'd have to agree. This isn't "small" music, just intimate.

GREAT NORTHERN on MySPACE.

GREAT NORTHERN across the continent >>>

May 30 2007 8:00P/The Troubadour [w/ Loney Dear]/Los Angeles, California
May 31 2007 8:00P/The Prospector/Long Beach, California
Jun 1 2007 8:00P/Beauty Bar/San Diego, California
Jun 4 2007 8:00P/Larimer Lounge/Denver, Colorado
Jun 6 2007 8:00P/Varsity/Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jun 8 2007 8:00P/Schubas/Chicago, Illinois
Jun 9 2007 8:00P/Lee's Palace [NXNE]/Toronto, Ontario
Jun 10 2007 8:00P/Divan Orange/Montreal, Quebec
Jun 11 2007 8:00P/Living Room/Providence, RI
Jun 12 2007 8:00P/Space/Portland, ME
Jun 13 2007 8:00P/Middle East/Boston, Massachusetts
Jun 14 2007 8:00P/Bowery Ballroom/New York, NY

[
MP3] "Home"

[
MP3] "Just a Dream"

Tuesday, May 29

CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG


Well, let's see now.... My favorite band is RADIOHEAD. PULP and THE DIVINE COMEDY aren't far behind. And I've posted at least twice on SERGE GAINSBOURG on this blog. So it seems pretty much preordained that I would take notice of Serge's daughter, CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG, and her well-pedigreed record 5:55.

5:55, you see, was produced by NIGEL GODRICH -- Radiohead's designated studio savant. 5:55's lyrics were written by JARVIS COCKER (of Pulp) and NEIL HANNON (of the Divine Comedy). Oh, and... AIR composed 5:55's music (SOPHIA COPPOLA -- who knows what it is to follow in a famous father's footsteps -- no doubt has taken note).

5:55 is actually Ms. Gainsbourg's second album. Her first -- CHARLOTTE FOR EVER -- was released some 20 years ago, when she was just 15 years old. It was around that same time that Papa Serge made some waves with the song "Lemon Incest" -- which came complete with a video featuring him, shirtless, in bed with his scantily-clad teenaged daughter. Even the French took offense.

Since then, Charlotte has made a name for herself as an actress (primarily in French films). 5:55, then, comes a bit out of the blue. Happily, it's a surprise of the decidedly "pleasant" variety. For proof, give the songs below a listen. "Everything I Cannot See" sounds like a VELVET UNDERGROUND/TORI AMOS mash-up, while "The Operation" evokes BLACK BOX RECORDER (with lyrics courtesy of a THIS IS HARDCORE-besotted Jarvis Cocker). You can also check out Charlotte's father and mother (JANE BIRKIN) and their semi-infamous, orgasmic duet. Also: that semi-infamous video. Jailbait by way of a proud papa. Yikes.

CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG on MySPACE.

[
MP3] "Everything I Cannot See"

[
MP3] [VID] "The Operation"

BONUS AUDIO/VIDEO >>>

[
MP3] "Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus" [SERGE GAINSBOURG & JANE BIRKIN]

[VID] "Lemon Incest"

WOODPIGEON


Hmm... I seem to be having some sort of "pigeon" fixation at the moment....

WOODPIGEON is from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. If you know about Calgary at all, it's probably in relation to its having hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988. Personally, I know it as the home of the Calgary Flames -- the team that knocked my Detroit Red Wings out of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2004. Therefore, I hold something of a grudge against Calgary, Alberta, Canada. And let's face it: Tourist destination-wise, it's no Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver. (Though, to be fair, it probably kicks Winnipeg's ass.) (Wherefore art thou, Winnipeg Jets?)

Woodpigeon is one of those ridiculously multi-membered collectives that seems less a traditional music ensemble than a hippie commune. I'd speculate that they drive to all their gigs in a neon-green, '70s-era VW bus -- except they wouldn't all fit in it. At the moment, there seem to be eight regular members in the group. Some of them have names like "Kenna," "Annalea," and "Foon" (hippies!). (Others of them have names like "Peter," "Mark," and "Michael," and are clearly in the wrong band).

But, as if eight members weren't already sufficient, Woodpigeon also enlist the help of 13 or so of their closest friends -- three of whom play tuba (okay, I made that last part up). But some of these friends have names like "Sandro," "Ching," "Karmella," and "Brooker (hippies!). ("Joe," "Jay," "Jason," and "Jane" should just give up the charade right now and go back to their jobs as tax attorney, toll-booth operator, rodeo clown, and mountie.)

Woodpigeon's music walks a crooked line between twee and folk, with band leader (and head hippie) MARK HAMILTON spinning deceptively tranquil tales of love and longing in an age of wise-ass insulation and cynicism. Think: THE HIDDEN CAMERAS or BELLE AND SEBASTIAN. Indeed, you'll hear a lot of B & S (circa "Fox in the Snow" or "We Rule the School") in "The Alison Yip School for Girls."

Woodpigeon's album, SONGBOOK, can be purchased on iTunes or [HERE].

WOODPIGEON on MySPACE.

WOODPIGEON taking wing (as only wooden pigeons can) >>>

May 31 2007 8:00P/OLYMPIC PLAZA/Calgary, Alberta
Jun 7 2007 11:00P/NXNE CHART SHOWCASE @ THE DRAKE/Toronto, Ontario
Jun 8 2007 8:00P/IHEARTMUSIC Presents WP w/Nich Worby, Eastborough and Entire Cities @ Gallery at Ecclesiax/Ottawa, Ontario
Jun 9 2007 8:00P/TBC/Montreal, Quebec
Jun 10 2007 8:00P/WAVELENGTH/Toronto, Ontario
Jun 16 2007 8:00P/NEXTFEST @ THE VELVET UNDERGROUND w/PRESSURE KILL COMMON STYLE/Edmonton, Alberta
Jun 27 2007 8:00P/SLED ISLAND 2007/Calgary, Alberta
Jun 28 2007 8:00P/SLED ISLAND 2007/Calgary, Alberta
Jun 29 2007 8:00P/SLED ISLAND 2007 w/ THE DEARS @ THE GRAND/Calgary, Alberta

From the LP SONGBOOK, 2006 >>>
[
MP3] "If Only I Were a Painter, I'd Paint for You the Moon"
[
MP3] "The Alison Yip School for Girls"

From the EP HOUNDSTOOTH, 2007 >>>
[
MP3] "Thoughts on the One Who Got Away By the One He Left Behind"

Monday, May 28

THE PIGEON DETECTIVES


I don't know much about the Leeds, UK band THE PIGEON DETECTIVES. Until last week, I'd never even heard of them.

I can tell you that there are five guys in the group, that their debut album, WAIT FOR ME, was released in Great Britain today, and that they sound quite a lot like quite a lot of other bands coming out of Great Britain today. THE FRATELLIS? Yup. THE VIEW? Yep. The "Next Big Thing"? Your "New Favorite Band"? No doubt the English music mags will say that it's so....

THE PIGEON DETECTIVES on MySPACE.

THE PIGEON DETECTIVES on tour >>>

Jun 6 2007 8:00P/VERA/GRONINGEN
Jun 7 2007 8:00P/NOUVEAU CASINO/PARIS
Jun 8 2007 8:00A/EKKO/UTRECHT
Jun 9 2007 8:00A/THE MUSIC IN MY HEAD FESTIVAL/HOLLAND
Jun 11 2007 8:00A/MELKWEG/AMSTERDAM
Jun 13 2007 8:00A/NOKIA THEATRE/NEW YORK
Jun 16 2007 8:00P/HAREWOOD HOUSE (02 WIRELESS)/LEEDS
Jun 17 2007 8:00P/HYDE PARK (02 WIRELESS FESTIVAL)/LONDON
Jun 23 2007 8:00A/GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL/GLASTONBURY
Jul 7 2007 8:00A/OXEGEN FESTIVAL/NAAS
Jul 8 2007 8:00A/T IN THE PARK FESTIVAL/BALADO/KINROSS

[
MP3] [VID] "I Found Out"

[
MP3] "Caught in Your Trap"

SISSY WISH



Poor Norway. Proud land of fjords, Vikings, and trolls. Yet always playing a distant second-fiddle to their hated neighbor, Sweden. In music, hockey, war, you name it. Come to think of it, maybe we'd better make that THIRD-fiddle. Give Finland the silver. (And don't look now, but Denmark's looking to bogart the bronze.)

Checking my "records," I see that -- in two years of maintaining this itty-bitty blog -- I have featured exactly FOUR Norwegian artists (compared to some 20 or so Swedes). SONDRE LERCHE. MADRUGADA. ROBERT POST. DATAROCK. These would be my Norwegians. What a positively puny array. And, for that, I apologize, Norway. Poor Norway. Proud land of fjords, Vikings, and trolls.

I pledge to do better. I will dedicate myself to an exhaustive study of your culture. I will breakfast on geitost and waffles. Lunch on lapskaus and cod crisps. Sup on meat cakes and lutefisk. I will endeavor to write in Bokmal on even-numbered days; Nynorsk on the odd. I will read nothing but Ibsen. Listen to nothing but "In the Hall of the Mountain King" and "Ja, vi elsker dette landet." I will pen a letter (in Bokmal, this being an even-numbered day) to President Bush, imploring him not to invade your nation for oil. I will -- whoa, hold on a minute here... I've just learned that Norway is the "most sober nation in Europe." Well, that certainly puts an end to THAT. (Ireland, here I come!)

But before I venture to the Emerald Isle in quest of rivers of whiskey, I proudly present to you my fifth Norwegian: SISSY WISH. Sissy Wish is the "aka" of one SIRI WAALBERG, she of Bergen, Norway (approximately 342 miles NW of Jonkoping; approximately 311 miles NW of Falkoping). Ms. Waalberg is a purveyor of helium-piped pop a la THE SOUNDS (see: "DWTS") and THE PIPETTES (see: "Beauties Never Die").

Sissy Wish's second LP, BEAUTIES NEVER DIE, was released in Norway in March. No word yet on when it will be available elsewhere.

SISSY WISH on MySPACE.

SISSY WISH in Scandinavian-sounding places >>>

Jul 13 2007 8:00P/Midnattsrocken/Lakselv
Jul 20 2007 8:00P/Vikafestivalen/Mo i Rana
Aug 2 2007 1:00A/Lost Weekend/Askøy
Aug 4 2007 8:00P/Malakoffestivalen/Nordfjordeid


[MP3] "DWTS"

[MP3] "Beauties Never Die"

Friday, May 25

EDITORS


I guess pretty much everybody already knows that EDITORS' new album, AN END HAS A START, will be released on July 17. I guess this is pretty much just a reminder, then. Just in case you didn't know. Just in case you're liable to forget.

EDITORS on MySPACE.

EDITORS festivalizing (and otherwise) >>>

May 27 2007 8:00P/Olympia/Dublin
Jun 6 2007 8:00P/Melkweg/Amsterdam
Jun 8 2007 8:00P/Open Air Festival/Zurich
Jun 12 2007 8:00P/Postbanhof/Berlin
Jun 15 2007 8:00P/Nova Rock Festival/Burgenland
Jun 16 2007 8:00P/Wireless Festival (Leeds)/Leeds
Jun 17 2007 8:00P/Wireless Festival (London)/London
Jun 22 2007 8:00P/Southside Festival/Scheeßel
Jun 24 2007 8:00P/Hurricane Festival/Tuttlingen
Jun 30 2007 8:00P/Eurockeenes/Belfort
Jul 6 2007 8:00P/Solidays Festival/Paris

[
MP3] "The Racing Rats"

DATAROCK


Never fear, Norwegian duo DATAROCK are here to funk up your Friday. Originally released in 2005, their LP DATAROCK DATAROCK will hit U.S. retail outlets on June 12 via NETTWERK.

Actually, the U.S. version is a bit different than the European one -- adding some songs and subtracting the rather unfortunately titled "Night Flight to Uranus." Single "Fa-Fa-Fa" is a hyperbolic hash of TALKING HEADS, ELECTRIC SIX, and RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS (as highly grounded by STEVIE WONDER, if you know what I mean). "The New Song," by contrast, is a pithy little piss-taker by way of SEX PISTOLS (if Sex Pistols had been a new-wave band).

DATAROCK on MySPACE.

DATAROCK on the road, transatlantically-speaking >>>

May 26 Chalk @ The Scala/London
May 27 Dot to Dot Festival/Nottingham
May 27 Eurocultured Festival/Manchester
May 28 Evolution Festival (Baltic Square)/Newcastle
Jun 1 Johnny Brenda's/Philadelphia, PA
Jun 2 Studio B Brooklyn,/NY
Jun 3 La TuLipe/Montreal, CAN
Jun 4 Lees Palace/Toronto, CAN
Jun 5 Empty Bottle/Chicago, IL

[
MP3] [VID] "The New Song"

[
MP3] [VID] "Fa-Fa-Fa"

Thursday, May 24

THE MARY ONETTES


Sweden's THE MARY ONETTES hail from Hovslatt. In my neverending quest to educate the world on the geography of Sweden, I am here to tell you that Hovslatt is approximately six miles SSW of Jonkoping and approximately 43 miles SE of Falkoping. So that should pretty much clear THAT up.

Now then... the Mary Onettes unapologetically trace their sound back to the '80s (ahem! please refer to previous post). They do not, however, sound like ERASURE. More of an ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN thing, I would say. Well... sort of. Occasionally, LLOYD COLE & THE COMMOTIONS and/or THE GO-BETWEENS (see: "Pleasure Songs") seem to insinuate themselves in there. A modern-day comparison might be something along the lines of STELLASTAR*. Anyway, you can draw your own comparisons/conclusions....

The Mary Onettes' self-titled, debut full-length was released earlier this month and can be purchased [
HERE].

THE MARY ONETTES on
MySPACE.

THE MARY ONETTES in Sweden and damn-near-almost Sweden >>>

May 25 2007 8:00P/KB (kulturbolaget)/Malmö
Jun 1 2007 8:00A/Stengade/Copenhagen
Jul 27 2007 8:00A/Trädgårn/Stockholm

[
MP3] "Pleasure Songs"

[
MP3] "Still"

Wednesday, May 23

ERASURE


We all have our guilty pleasures. That I liked ERASURE in the '80s hardly seems to qualify, to my mind; a LOT of people liked Erasure in the '80s. A lot of people liked "Chains of Love." And "A Little Respect." And "Oh L'amour." Not to mention PET SHOP BOYS. And DEPECHE MODE. Absolutely no shame in it. None whatsoever. And if you insist in saying that there is, then I'm going to take all my Members Only jackets, my lace-less Adidas high-tops, my acid-washed Jordache jeans, and my closetful of peach and aqua Izods, wad them up into a big ball of I-will-NOT-feel-shame-for-my-'80s-existence fury, and shove them up your big, fat, ignorant ass. (And you better believe I'm not going to bother removing the long-handled plastic comb from the back pocket of those Jordache jeans before I do. No, sir. Not a chance.)

Now, the fact that I CONTINUED to like Erasure after their sell-by date of, say, 1994, may well damn me to that "guilty pleasures" Venus flytrap I was referring to at the beginning. But if so: So be it. Sure, ANDY BELL and VINCE CLARKE haven't been selling as many records; haven't been having hits. They've even turned to can-this-career-be-saved stopgaps like cover records and acoustic re-recordings of their older, better-known material. But 2005's generally low-key NIGHTBIRD struck many critics (and, no doubt, many Erasure fans) as a comeback of sorts -- even a bit of a revelation. The revelation, ultimately, being that the album wasn't a "coming back" to the dancefloor, but a mature exploration of life/lust/love/loss that even straight people might appreciate, if not entirely embrace.

Well, here it is 2007, and Erasure clearly do not intend to "Stop!" the "Drama!." Maybe they're just deluding themselves on a "Ship of Fools," or maybe they're praying for a bit of "Heavenly Action," but they still have "Breath of Life." No matter how many people "Surround [Them]" and shout, "We 'Love to Hate You'." (Okay, enough... even my '80s incarnation would be sickened by this....)

All I'm really trying to say is that Andy and Vince released their latest CD, LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD, yesterday on MUTE RECORDS. Stylistically, the new disc straddles the line between NIGHTBIRD's lush introspection and some of the duo's earlier, dancier material. Unfortunately -- for me, at least -- this effort seems a bit embalmed and by-the-numbers. After over 20 years together, it's no surprise that these guys can competently construct songs. But the ones on display here -- whether up- or down-tempo -- never quite come to life. Andy Bell's lyrics no doubt have deepened over the past few years, but Erasure -- unlike Pet Shop Boys -- were never an outfit that much relied on words. And, sadly, it may be the case that Vince Clarke has simply run out melodies and synthesizer tricks, and that he has had to resort to recycling.

Still and all, Erasure remain a lightning rod of nostalgia for this particular '80s teen, and I found LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD's "recycling" the most effective on the album's opening and closing tracks. You can judge for yourselves below....

First, though, it should be noted that Erasure will be busy boys on the road this year. They'll be joining CYNDI LAUPER, DEBBIE HARRY, THE DRESDEN DOLLS, THE GOSSIP, and THE MISSHAPES on the
TRUE COLORS TOUR, which is in support of the HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN. They'll then transition into their own tour in July, beginning in the U.S.

ERASURE on MySPACE.

ERASURE on the True Colors tour >>>

08 June 07/Las Vegas/MGM Grand/Garden Arena
09 June 07/Salt Lake City/USANA Amphitheatre
10 June 07/Denver/Red Rocks Amphitheatre/Red Rocks Park/Morrison, CO
12 June 07/Chicago/Auditorium Theatre
13 June 07/Columbus/Schottenstein Center
15 June 07/Atlantic City/Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
16 June 07/Boston/Bank of America Pavilion
17 June 07/Washington/Merriweather Post Pavilion
18 June 07/New York/Radio City Music Hall
19 June 07/Toronto/Molson Amphitheatre
21 June 07/Atlanta/Chastain Park Amphitheatre
23 June 07/Dallas/Smirnoff Music Centre
24 June 07/Houston/Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
27 June 07/San Diego/SDSU Open Air Theater
29 June 07/San Francisco/Greek Theatre
30 June 07/Los Angeles/Greek Theatre

ERASURE on their own tour >>>

Fri 7/6/Tampa, FL/Carol Morsani Hall
Sat 7/7/Miami, FL/James L. Knight Center
Sun 7/8/Orlando, FL/Hard Rock Live!
Fri 7/13/San Juan, Puerto Rico/Coliseo Roberto Clemente
Sat 7/14/Altos de Chavon/Dominican Republic/The Amph @ Altos de Chavon
Mon 7/16/Mexico City, Mexico/Metropolitan Theater
Thu 7/19/Monterrey, Mexico/Arena Monterrey
Sat 7/21/Anaheim, CA/Grove of Anaheim
Tue 7/24/Seattle, WA/Moore Theatre
Fri 7/27/Minneapolis, MN/First Avenue
Sat 7/28/Milwaukee, WI/Pabst Theater
Sun 7/29/Kansas City, MO/Uptown Theater
Tue 7/31/Detroit, MI/Music Hall
Wed 8/1/Cleveland, OH/House of Blues
Fri 8/3/Brooklyn, NY/McCarren Park Pool

[
MP3] "Sunday Girl"

[
MP3] "Glass Angel"

BONUS TRACKS POST-ERASURE-SELL-BY-DATE OF, SAY, 1994 >>>

[
MP3] "Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer's Day" [1995]

[
MP3] "Don't Say Your Love is Killing Me" [1997]

[
MP3] "Freedom" [2000]

[
MP3] "All This Time Still Falling Out of Love" [2005]

Tuesday, May 22

DICK DALE/SHADOWY MEN ON A SHADOWY PLANET


I don't normally go in for instrumentals all that much. They can, however, be ideal as opening or closing tracks on mix CDs. Not to mention as the perfect backing music for movie or TV show credit sequences. Apparently, Quentin Tarantino agrees, what with his use of DICK DALE's "Miserlou" to kick open the door on PULP FICTION. And some of you in Canada and the U.S. (and perhaps elsewhere) may be familiar with a Canadian sketch comedy show called KIDS IN THE HALL. The opening titles to that show are accompanied by a song called "Having an Average Weekend," by the group SHADOWY MEN ON A SHADOWY PLANET (also Canadian).
So... here are a couple of mini-samplers for you to... um... sample. Short. Sweet. Fun.

DICK DALE >>>

[MP3] "Miserlou"

[MP3] "Tidal Wave"

[MP3] "Nitro"

[MP3] "Hava Nagila"

SHADOWY MEN ON A SHADOWY PLANET >>>

[MP3] "Having an Average Weekend"

[MP3] "Bennett Cerf"

[MP3] "Harlem By the Sea"

[MP3] "Shake Some Evil"

SPOON


Austin favorite sons SPOON will release their latest CD, GA GA GA GA GA, July 10 on MERGE RECORDS. If you haven't already heard the whole kit 'n' kaboodle elsewhere, perhaps you'd like a little taste of it here. If so, I suggest you hurry up and listen; no telling how long it'll be allowed to stick around these here parts....

[
MP3] "Rhthm & Soul"

You can catch BRITT DANIEL, JIM ENO & ETC. before (and after) the record-release at the following festivals & etc. >>>

May 24 2007 9:00P/Popscene/San Francisco, California
May 27 2007 8:00A/Sasquatch Festival/The Gorge, WA
Jun 10 2007 8:00P/FM 94.9/Miller Lite Independent/San Diego, California
Jun 16 2007 8:00P/Bonaroo Music Festival/Manchester, Tennessee
Jun 29 2007 8:00P/Sled Island Festival/Calgary, Alberta
Jul 4 2007 8:00A/Comerica City Fest/Detroit, MI
Jul 11 2007 8:00P/River to River/Battery Park/New York, New York
Aug 4 2007 8:00P/Lollapalooza/Grant Park/Chicago, Illinois
Aug 5 2007 8:00P/Virgin Festival/Baltimore, Maryland

SPOON on MySPACE.

Monday, May 21

VICTORIA DAY

Hey, America's neighbor to the north (or south, in my case... sort of) is celebrating Victoria Day today. Considering how kooky and laid-back Canadians are genetically engineered to be, I can only assume that this a festive holiday homage to the woman who founded the famous lingerie catalogue. How aboot that, eh?

[
MP3] BRITISH SEA POWER/"Victorian Ice"

[
MP3] LOS SUPER ELEGANTES/"Victoria"

FIELDS


I posted on FIELDS in September regarding their EP, 7 FROM THE VILLAGE. I stand by what I said then, so I'm going to say it again now:

"UK-based Fields are a tough band to pigeon hole. Is their music shoegaze? Folk? Both? And, if folk, what KIND of folk? Pastoral? Psychedelic? Both? And what about indie pop? Surely there's a bit of that in there as well. But again, what KIND? Sufjan indie pop? Arcade Fire indie pop? Both? Neither? All of the above? Good grief.

Well, however the hell you want to label them, these four Brits (and one Icelander) create quite the agreeable amalgamation. The truth is, "all of the above" probably is the best answer to the above questions. Folk/indie pop is the overriding combo (and let's make that Arcade Fire indie pop; just listen to those verses accelerating into the choruses on "Charming the Flames"). Fields have a way of lulling the listener into a misguided sense of reverie, only to pull the rug out with a sudden (but subtle) throttle-up of drums and/or voices.

And those voices are key. The leads are alternated between Nick Peill and Thorunn Antonia, but the overall effect is reminiscent of some creepy cult singalong around some haunted-forest campfire. Are these people hippies or Druids? Are they roasting marshmallows or sacrificing animals? Both? Neither? All of the above? Good grief."
Happily, the promise that Fields showed on their debut EP has reached fulfillment on their debut long-player. If anything, EVERYTHING LAST WINTER expands the group's parameters by letting their darker instincts go even darker. I realize that it's not even June yet, but this effort rides up real high on my 2007 Best Albums list -- probably top two. And, not to be too greedy or impatient, but I can't wait to hear what these guys come up with next.

FIELDS on MySPACE.

FIELDS in the future >>>

Jun 18 2007/8:00P/ICA/London
Jun 21 2007 8:00P/Inrocks/Indie Club, la Maroquinerie/Paris

From the LP EVERYTHING LAST WINTER, 2007 >>>
[
MP3] "You Brought This on Yourself"
[
MP3] "The Death"

From the EP 7 FROM THE VILLAGE, 2006 >>>
[
MP3] "Brittlesticks"

Sunday, May 20

PELLE CARLBERG

This is proving to be the least productive month for this blog in its two-year existence. My apologies for that. Will try to get back on the ball.

For now, just to grease the wheels/prime the pump, some tunes from Swedish indie-pop hipster
PELLE CARLBERG.

PELLE CARLBERG on MySPACE.

PELLE CARLBERG in America >>>

May 27 2007 8:00P/Luna Lounge/Broolyn, New York
May 29 2007 8:00P/The Supermarket/Toronto, Ontario
May 30 2007 8:00P/Small's/Detroit, Michigan
May 31 2007 8:00P/Beachland Ballroom/Cleveland, Ohio
Jun 2 2007 8:00P/The Delancey/New York, New York

From the LP EVERYTHING NOW!, 2006 >>>
[
MP3] "Summer of '69"
[
MP3] "Go to Hell, Miss Rydell"

BONUS TRACK >>>

[
MP3] "I Love You, You Imbecile"

Thursday, May 10

FEIST


Back in 2005, I wasn't one of those bloggers who went over-the-moon ga-ga for LESLIE FEIST. It wasn't that I didn't find her voice fetching; it was just that many of the songs from 2004's LET IT DIE didn't appeal to me overmuch. Hey... it happens.

Well, it's been over a week now since the release of her latest album, THE REMINDER, and I'm feeling that ol' deja vu all over again. Actually, I'm liking a handful or so of the tracks, and that's not a particularly bad ratio for me. This time around, it seems to be the perkier tunes that are rowing my boat the best....

FEIST on MySPACE.

FEIST, something wicked, this way comes >>>

May 15 2007 8:00P/Royal Theatre/Victoria, British Columbia
May 16 2007 8:00P/Orpheum Theatre/Vancouver, British Columbia
May 18 2007 8:00P/Winspear/Edmonton, Alberta
May 19 2007 8:00P/Jubilee/Calgary, Alberta
May 22 2007 8:00P/Conexus Arts Center/Regina, Saskatchewan
May 23 2007 8:00P/Burton Cummings Theatre/Winnipeg, Manitoba
May 25 2007 8:00P/Massey Hall/Toronto, Ontario
May 26 2007 8:00P/Massey Hall/Toronto, Ontario
May 31 2007 8:00P/Bronson Centre/Ottawa, Ontario

From the LP THE REMINDER, 2007 >>>
[
MP3] "I Feel It All"
[
MP3] "Past in Present"

From the LP LET IT DIE, 2004 >>>
[
MP3] "One Evening"
[
MP3] "Mushaboom"

BONUS TRACKS >>>

[
MP3] "L'amour Ne Dure Pas Toujours"

[
MP3] "Boomerang 2005" [w/GONZALES and DANI]

Wednesday, May 9

RICHARD SWIFT


RICHARD SWIFT has been compared to everyone from RUFUS WAINWRIGHT to RAY DAVIES; RON SEXSMITH to ELVIS COSTELLO. An Anglophile, supposedly. And a bit on the sad side. Sounds fine by me.

RICHARD SWIFT on MySPACE.

RICHARD SWIFT going where all true Anglophiles must go >>>

Jun 3 2007 3:00P/The Conway Hall/London
Jun 5 2007 8:00A/JUNCTION THEATRE/CAMBRIDGE
Jun 6 2007 8:00A/Arts Theatre/Colchester
Jun 7 2007 8:00A/Fleece/Bristol
Jun 8 2007 8:00A/Point/Cardiff
Jun 9 2007 8:00A/MAC Arena/Birmingham
Jun 10 2007 8:00A/St Georges Church/Brighton
Jun 11 2007 8:00A/ARTS CENTRE/Norwich
Jun 12 2007 8:00A/Town Hall/Reading
Jun 13 2007 8:00A/Phoenix/Exeter
Jun 24 2007 12:00P/Glastonbury Festival/Glastonbury

From the LP DRESSED UP FOR THE LETDOWN, 2007 >>>
[
MP3] "Kisses for the Misses"
[
MP3] "The Million Dollar Baby"

From the double LP THE NOVELIST/WALKING WITHOUT EFFORT, 2005 >>>
[
MP3] "Beautiful Heart"
[
MP3] "As I Go"

Tuesday, May 8

THE MuBAs

Seeing as it's now the second week of May in the year 2007, it may seem strange to still be talking about the best songs, albums, and artists of 2006. And that may well be so. But bear with me....

The First Annual Blog Awards -- or MuBAs -- were supposed to take place in the far-more-appropriate month of January. The idea was that a collection of willing music blogs would nominate their favorite songs, albums, and artists of 2006, and that you, the people, would then decide the winners. Simple enough. Or so it seemed.

But then
eMusic began to show interest in participating with the awards, and things apparently took a while to coordinate. About four months, it turns out.

Well, things seem to be all squared away now, and if you're of a mind to, you can vote on the various categories by going
[HERE]. There aren't all that many to wade through, and I'd imagine the whole process wouldn't take you more than a minute or two. Also, they're anonymous, so there's no need to provide your name, address, or other personal information.

EMusic, of course, would be tickled pink if you signed up with them. If you haven't already, you can try their two-week/40 free songs deal. I've done that one before, and I can tell you that cancelling you membership with them (if you choose to do so), is a pleasantly no-hassle transaction. Also, their music selection is quite good and continually getting better.

Now, I'm no shill for eMusic. I'm not big on ads on MP3 blogs, in general. And you don't have to deal with EMusic at all to
vote for the MuBAs. Said voting, by the way, ends June 15.

Along with some of the other nominating blogs, I submitted a playlist at eMusic. You can see it
[HERE] if you have a hankering to do so.

And speaking of the nominating blogs, these would be those:

#1 Hits From Another Planet (http://alienhits.blogspot.com/)
5 Acts ( http://www.5acts.com )
A Beef Sandwich (http://abeefsandwich.typepad.com/)
Advance Copy (http://advancecopy.blogspot.com/)
All Things Go Blog (http:// http://www.all-things-go.com/)
An Aquarium Drunkard (http:// www.aquariumdrunkard.com)
A Plague of Angles ( http://plagueofangels.blogspot.com/ )
Bars and Guitars (http://barsandguitars.blogspot.com )
Both Sides of the Mouth (http://bothsidesofthemouth.blogspot.com/)
Communications Major, English Minor (http://gothbrooks.blogspot.com)
Desperate Youth (http://desperateyouth.blogspot.com/)
Different Kitchen ( http://differentkitchen.blogspot.com/)
Fingertips (http:// http://www.fingertipsmusic.com/)
From Blown Speakers (http://itcameoutmagical.blogspot.com/)
The Good, The Bad, The Unknown (http://goodbadunknown.blogspot.com/)
Hate Something Beautiful ( http://www.hatesomethingbeautiful.com/)
I Am Fuel, You are Friends ( http://fuelfriends.blogspot.com )
I Guess I'm Floating (http://iguessimfloating.blogspot.com/)
Jonk's Music Blog ( http://jonkmusic.blogspot.com/)
Kwaya Na Kisser (http:// www.knkisser.blogspot.com )
The Late Greats (http://staergetaleht.blogspot.com/)
The Listening Post (http://blog.wired.com/music/)
The Music Slut (http://http://www.themusicslut.org/)
My Old Kentucky Blog (http://myoldkentuckyblog.com/)
Noise For Toaster (http://noisefortoaster.blogspot.com/)
Off The Record (http://marchonelectricchildren.blogspot.com/)
Palms Out ( http://www.palmsout.com/)
Quick Before It Melts ( http://qbim.blogspot.com/)
Sand Is Overrated ( http://sand-is-overrated.blogspot.com )
Silence Is A Rhthym Too (http://siart.blogspot.com/)
Speed of Dark ( http://speedofdark-web.blogspot.com/)
Test Pilot (http://thetestpilot.blogspot.com/)
Under The Rotunda (http://itsundertherotunda.blogspot.com )
White Boy Dance Floor (http://whiteboydancefloor.blogspot.com/ )

("A Plague of Angles"... how 'bout them apples. Very likely a better name than the one I've got -- except for the fact that I've always despised religion more than geometry.)

Monday, May 7

BEST OF APRIL

Left-click [HERE] for the April mix. Hopefully you'll find it worth the wait....

March '07 [HERE].
February '07 [HERE].
January '07 [HERE].

TRACKLIST >>>
01) PATRICK WOLF/The Magic Position
02) ELENI MANDELL/Pauline
03) HEAVENS/Gardens
04) MIDNIGHT MOVIES/Patient Eye
05) THE COMAS/Come My Sunshine
06) ELK CITY/Cherries in the Snow
07) TRAVIS/Selfish Jean
08) THE WANNADIES/Nothing Wrong
09) MAXIMO PARK/By the Monument
10) THE FINE ARTS SHOWCASE/Chemical Girl
11) CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG/Everything I Cannot See
12) PERFORMANCE/Surrender
13) LILY ALLEN/Friday Night
14) DORSIA/Unprovoked
15) THE MINOR LEAGUES/The World is Mine
16) MOHAIR/Stranded
17) TIGER LOU/Functions
18) VELOUR/If You Really Want Me
19) THE FEATURES/Commotion
20) WINTERPILLS/Portrait
21) SOUTHSIDE STALKERS/The Little and the Dead

Thursday, May 3

THE NATIONAL


I'm off to Ann Arbor to drive around and have dinner tonight, so my time is tight. Thus, I must crib from myself:

"The New York (by way of Ohio) group THE NATIONAL finally began to garner a bit of mainstream attention with the release of 2005's ALLIGATOR. Truth be told, though, they've been putting out solid albums and songs ever since 2001...."

On May 22, the next "solid album," BOXER, will hit your local retail outlet. Is it better than ALLIGATOR? It just might be....

THE NATIONAL on MySPACE.

THE NATIONAL on tour >>>

May 22 2007 8:00P/Astoria/London
May 23 2007 8:00P/La Maroquinerie/Paris
May 25 2007 8:00P/Magnet/Berlin
May 28 2007 8:00P/Bowery Ballroom/New York, New York
May 29 2007 8:00P/Bowery Ballroom/New York, New York
May 30 2007 8:00P/Bowery Ballroom/New York, New York
May 31 2007 8:00P/Bowery Ballroom/New York, New York
Jun 1 2007 8:00P/Bowery Ballroom/New York, New York
Jun 2 2007 8:00P/Johnny Brendas/Philadelphia
Jun 4 2007 8:00P/Cabaret/Montreal
Jun 5 2007 8:00P/Opera House/Toronto
Jun 6 2007 8:00P/Magic Stick/Detroit

From the LP BOXER, 2007 >>>
[
MP3] "Slow Show"
[
MP3] "Green Gloves"

From the LP ALLIGATOR, 2005 >>>
[MP3] "Mr. November"
[MP3] "All the Wine"

From the LP SAD SONGS FOR DIRTY LOVERS, 2003 >>>
[MP3] "Slipping Husband"

Wednesday, May 2

BRIDGING THE DISTANCE - PORTLAND, OR

Maybe you've already heard about the covers compilation put out by Portland, Oregon artists back in April? Well, if not, the tracklist looks like this:

01 The Decemberists - “Think About Me” [Fleetwood Mac]
02 Pat MacDonald - “The Harder They Come” [Jimmy Cliff]
03 The Joggers - “Long Distance Runaround” [Yes]
04 The Snuggle Ups - “Dancing in the Dark” [Bruce Springsteen]
05 The Thermals - “Tangerine” [Led Zeppelin]
06 Christopher Walla - “Shattered Dreams” [Johnny Hates Jazz]
07 Viva Voce - “Eye in the Sky” [The Alan Parsons Project]
08 The Minus 5 - “That Smell” [Lynyrd Skynyrd]
09 Talkdemonic - “Sombre Reptiles” [Brian Eno]
10 The Minders - “Don’t Bring Me Down” [Electric Light Orchestra]
11 The Kingdom - “Sister Christian” [Night Ranger]
12 Lackthereof - “What a Fool Believes” [The Doobie Brothers]
13 Whip - “White Wedding” [Billy Idol]
14 Wet Confetti - “Invincible” [Pat Benatar]
15 The Dandy Warhols - “She Sells Sanctuary” [The Cult]
16 Point Juncture, WA - “Pearl of the Quarter” [Steely Dan]
17 Blitzen Trapper - “Crazy on You” [Heart]
18 Crosstide - “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” [Elvis Costello]
19 Britt Daniel - “Bring It on Home to Me” [Sam Cooke]

Sort of reeks of charity, no? Indeed. It does. But which one? Why, this one right [
HERE], of course. That particular charity's mission? Why, to help homeless youth(s), of course -- which is a pretty damn big problem in the Pacific Northwest, as it turns out. Elsewhere as well, one assumes. But that's for OTHER charity compilations to address.

BRIDGING THE DISTANCE can be had for a paltry $10 if you go [
HERE]. Good cause? Indeed. It is.

[
MP3] THE SNUGGLE UPS/"Dancing in the Dark"

[
MP3] WHIP/"White Wedding"

[
MP3] VIVA VOCE/"Eye in the Sky"

BONUS TRACKS >>>

[
MP3] HEART/"Crazy on You"

[MP3] ELO/"Don't Bring Me Down"

[
MP3] THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT/"Eye in the Sky"

BELL X1


Plenty of people have heard of Ireland's DAMIEN RICE the past few years, but they may not have heard of his former band -- BELL X1.

Actually, they were called JUNIPER in the days when Rice was still with them; they adopted "Bell X1" when drummer PAUL NOONAN stepped to the front of the stage.

The group released their third album, FLOCK, in Ireland in 2005. It went to #1 there but didn't make much of a splash anywhere else.

Prickly-guitared, singalong single "Flame" might be BLOC PARTY or MAXIMO PARK on lithium (and filtered through '70s glam/disco). Middle-of-the-road, slow-builder "Natalie" mines a PETE YORN vibe. And the excellently-titled "My Firstborn for a Song" evokes DAVID BYRNE on the verses and JOSH ROUSE on the choruses.

BELL X1 on MySPACE.

BELL X1 upcoming >>>

Jun 30 2007 8:00P/Malahide Castle/Dublin
Jul 1 2007 8:00P/Live At The Marquee/Cork


[
MP3] "Flame"

[
MP3] "Natalie"

[
MP3] "My Firstborn for a Song"

Tuesday, May 1

BASIA BULAT

London, Ontario's BASIA BULAT categorizes her music as "pop," "folk," and -- far more interestingly -- "melodramatic popular song." "Chamber pop" is another genre that gets mentioned. "Sweet ragtime piano melodies." "Tender-hearted string arrangements." That sort of thing.

But take a look an inch or two down from here at the caliber of artists she's performing with in the month of May. Must mean something....


Basia Bulat's debut album, OH, MY DARLING, was released in Europe on Tuesday. For the time being, the U.S. (and London, Ontario) will just have to do without.

BASIA BULAT on MySPACE.

BASIA BULAT: Europe is her playground >>>

May 2 2007 8:00P/Mezz/with The Veils/BREDA
May 3 2007 8:00P/Doornroosje/with The Veils/NIJMEGEN
May 4 2007 8:00P/Melkweg/with The Veils/AMSTERDAM
May 6 2007 8:00P/Rotown/with The Veils/ROTTERDAM
May 10 2007 8:00P/Les Nuits/Botanique @ Rotonde/with Loney Dear & Patrick Watson/BRUSSELS
May 12 2007 8:00P/Berns/with Great Lake Swimmers/STOCKHOLM
May 13 2007 8:00P/Pusterviksbaren/with Great Lake Swimmers/GOTHENBORG
May 17 2007 8:00P/Scala/with Sondre Lerche/LONDON
May 22 2007 8:00P/La Maroquinerie/with Rosie Thomas & Sandi Thom/PARIS

[
MP3] "December"

[
MP3] "La-Da-Da"

IMMIGRATION DAY

Immigration Day here in the U.S. Not exactly a national holiday. Wonder what Native Americans think of the immigration issue.... One guesses they couldn't give two shits about the Mexicans... they're still too pissed at the Brits.

Speaking of Brits...

[
MP3] LED ZEPPELIN/"Immigrant Song"

MOHAIR


Mohair is a "silk-like fabric or yarn made from the hair of the Angora goat."

MOHAIR is also a band from the London area. They released their debut long-player, SMALL TALK, last September, and I don't remember hearing a single thing about it.

Last week, though -- thanks to a FILTER sampler disc -- I became acquainted with their song "Stranded." (You can become acquainted with it on Friday by downloading my Best of April mix.)

In the meantime, THE HYPE MACHINE led me to the two tracks below. Clearly, the four boys of Mohair do not shy away from big, shiny production and big, shiny choruses. And if it sometimes seems like they're just aping some of their contemporaries and a few of their forbears... well... they're young yet, and I, for one, am more than willing to cut them some slack.

MOHAIR on
MySPACE.

[
MP3] "End of the Line"

[MP3] "L.A. Song"
Flag Counter
Site Meter